Human beings are complex. We like to complicate things. Jesus knew how to keep it simple. This is easier said than done. Simple doesn’t mean easy or light. When we keep things straight-forward, they are easily reproduced by others. The baton we try to pass to others can quickly become heavy. If you want to see a multiplication of disciples and leaders, work hard to keep things simple.
Experiencing the Kingdom
I sat on the floor in their tiny home. A group of women and a few kids had joined me. We chatted about their children. It was then time for the Bible story. The day before I had come to this same home. I’d shared the story with the beautiful lady whose house we now occupied. We’d practiced it until she could repeat it easily. She was not highly literate, but she was a fantastic storyteller.
She finished serving tea to everyone, then settled herself comfortably on the floor. Opening her Bible, she read a line then began the story. It took about three minutes to tell. She then told it once again and set out to make sure every woman there could repeat it. Discussion followed.
It was incredibly simple. It had a great impact.
When I went home, it was time to study. I opened my textbooks for the course from Fuller Theological Seminary I was in the middle of. Working at that time on a Masters in Global Leadership, I began to read. The words were difficult, the sentences long. I read an academic treatment of a very important topic – The Kingdom of God.
“Hmmm,” I thought. “I just experienced the Kingdom of God. It was so much simpler than the way this author describes it. Why do we make things so very complicated?”
Jesus said the Kingdom belonged to those who receive it as a child. I determined to keep things simple enough for my then elementary-age kids to understand. If they couldn’t grasp and apply it, maybe I was overcomplicating things.
“But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”Luke 18:16 NIV.
4 Ways to Keep Your Teaching/Training Simple
1) Shorten it.
It is tempting to say much more than needed. I struggle with this every time I write or speak. How much do I need to say to get my point across? In a three-part meeting or discovery study, the lesson should never be more than 5-7 minutes long. Cut out unnecessary material.
2) Use stories.
Jesus frequently taught with short parables (stories). Why don’t we? Not only can we use Bible stories, but we can create stories to illustrate points. Modern-day parables speak strongly and simply. Let the hearer draw their own conclusions.
Give time not only for discussion but for practice and repetition. Ask the person you are sharing with what they heard you say? If they missed parts, help them fill those in. Don’t be afraid to repeat the simple story or lesson again until they are able to re-state it with accuracy.
This takes time. If the group is large, you may need to ask them to do this in pairs. It is worth the time it takes. Practicing makes the lesson more reproducible.
4) Break it up.
Many Bible stories are far too long to tell in one sitting. By telling one part and then leaving them hanging about what will happen next builds interest. They will want to return to hear the conclusion. The story of Joseph is classic. You could take several months to tell his story!
If it seems like you are going to need more than five minutes, think about breaking it into several parts.
What Is More Important?
Keep it simple. This is true of a gospel presentation or your testimony. It applies to training a new believer, or even leadership development. Simple is best. It will multiply. Complicated teachings sound good but usually are not passed on.
What is more important? That you sound smart or that they understand, apply, and can replicate what you’ve trained them in?
Make the shift to simple. You won’t regret it.
I’d love to hear your comments on this. What have you done to simplify the way you do church or disciple-making? Comment below or on the Dmmsfrontiermissions Facebook group.
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AWESOME! WOW! You are RIGHT ON!
More than anything, this one element – the Western world’s infatuation with all things intellectual & complicated – may be the greatest hindrance to seeing DMM’s here.
Yes, it’s true. We have to work hard to keep things simple! Appreciate your feedback. Blessings!